RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. - The hot sparks don’t scare Madison Hoff, who practices her self-shielded flux-cored arc welding. She’s a welding student at the Universal Technical Institute and for Hoff, welding is more than just a career path -- it’s her passion.
“Taking metal and being able to melt it together and become one solid piece changes it into something that it wasn’t before,” Hoff said.
Hoff has a solid dream with her husband Lance Skyhawk Guffie. Guffie is a student in the automotive program at the institute. They both met and served in the United States Marine Corps and used their G.I. Bill to go to a trade school and not a four-year college.
Hoff is studying a trade where employment is expected to grow six percent by 2026, according to the The Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“My perfect dream job is being able to open up a shop with my husband and being able to build custom bumpers and real cages,” said Hoff.
Their very own auto body shop, which they hope to own in the future.
Hoff is also one out of five female students that currently attends the Universal Technical Institute.
As she braids her hair, puts her gear on, and walks to her work station in a classroom full of men, she will soon be joining the five percent of women that according to American Welding Society make up the present welding personnel.
“Being one of the very few females here -- only female in the morning welding morning program -- I feel very confident that I can sit here with all men and be just as good as them if not better,” said Hoff.
This confidence is gained by having supportive instructors like Mr. Lopez, who is currently training the new generation of welders.
Going to a trade school changed his life when he studied welding straight out of high school.
“[It] helped me provide for my wife and family of two. Being able to purchase a home at the age of 26, it’s definitely a great route to go and I encourage everybody to at least give it a try," said Lopez.
But it isn’t for everyone.
“It’s a lot of hard work and dedication that I’ve put in. And it shows if you really want to be very good at welding,” said Hoff.
And being one of the top students in her class, she's well-poised to be one of the best in the field.